A fast-paced platformer with plenty of speedrunning features set in a retrowave simulation.
Developer: Blazing Stick
Publisher: Graffiti Games
Release date: Q1 2020
Cyber Hook is a fast-paced 3d platformer in which you run, grapple, and shoot your way to the exit. Much like other speedrunning platformers in the genre, your main goal is to get to the exit using the quickest route possible. However, the said route may not be the one set out before you.
Speedrunning without much running
Cyber Hook sets itself apart from other fast-paced “speedrunning” games by making the “speed” less about the “running.” Instead, you’ll be picking up speed and zipping through the skies using a grappling hook, picking up blazing-fast speeds as you zoom past dangers and obstacles. A lot of the levels you run through will also be designed in such a way that the brave and the creative can forego the obvious path ahead and tread more dangerous territories, which could yield a much quicker completion time.
The game’s level design does well at giving you plenty of freedom to pick and choose your path. Whether you take the more obvious route, stick grappling between floating blocks, or even going under the map, every route you take is perfectly viable, though some might not be as efficient as others. Making sure you’ve got a good flow and a decent pathway to work around will keep your speeds high, giving you some impressive visual effects as well as wind whistling by your ear, selling the feeling that you are going as fast as possible.
To maintain that flow, you’re given an additional two features that can keep things going as smooth and speedy as possible. The first tool, the finger gun, can help break certain obstacles, often giving you opportunities to go down different pathways. The second tool you’re given, the time warp, allows you to… well… slow time while maintaining your velocity. The time warp not only gives you a few crucial moments to correct yourself (should you have made a mistake) but also extends the reach of your grappling hook slightly, allowing for more daring plays or extra stupidity.
An exciting romp through a beautifully-simplistic world
Cyber Hook took the synth/retrowave aesthetic and made it shine. The game takes place in a simulation, so just about everything is basic shapes. Each level is comprised solely of cubes, each of which is color-coded or transparent to help you determine what or what not to slam your face into. Even the background screams synthwave, with the iconic ‘synth sun’ over low-poly hills covered with a multi-colored grid, the entire aesthetic gives the simulation that much more vibrancy.
Even with an earlier version of the game, Cyber Hook runs impressively smooth. Thanks to the rather simplistic graphics design, if you have a decent modern rig you can expect an easily achievable 60 FPS. As of now, there isn’t much to the graphics menus. No real settings aside from resolution and Anti-Aliasing, though there’s no doubt it will be fleshed out upon release.
What to expect
Upon release, Cyber Hook will contain well over 70 different levels (at launch) to scratch that speedrunning itch. Casual play is always perfectly fine, but if you want to be the best of the best, there will be both world and regional leaderboards for those sweet, sweet bragging rights.
One feature that they plan to include in the leaderboard system is the ability to “watch others play in-game to determine the best strategies to make it through levels.” The leaderboard will effectively record your run for others to watch without having to turn to youtube to see how to streamline their performance. This will always be a welcome feature in speedrunning games, whether it’s in video form or (more preferably) a ghost mode as is seen in plenty of racing games. Being able to watch your competition to better yourself and make your runs worth watching will make for a great, competitive addition.
A great addition to any library
I’m more excited for this game’s release than most Triple-A games coming out next year. Cyber Hook shows incredible promise, setting itself apart from other games in the genre with some unique, fresh ideas and extremely fun freeform gameplay. This game will be well worth your money once it comes out. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to play the demo again for the fifth time…